Google Android Tablet on Verizon Is a Logical Response to Apple's iPad

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-05-13

Google Android Tablet on Verizon Is a Logical Response to Apple's iPad

If the latest rumors of a tablet tie-up with Google are true, Verizon Wireless seems to be looking to be to Google's Android platform what AT&T is to Apple's iPhone and eventually, its iPad.

Google and Verizon are becoming bosom buddies. Verizon already enjoys offering phones based on Google's popular Android mobile operating system, backing devices such as the Motorola Droid and the HTC Droid Incredible with a $100 million marketing campaign.

Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam provided more fodder for speculation May 11 when he confirmed the company is working on a tablet with Google based on Android.

No other details were provided and Google declined to dignify McAdam's comments, providing only a general comment about Android being an open-source platform, with vendors free to do what they wish with it.

Still, the mere mention of a Verizon-Google tablet made industry watchers drool at the anticipation of some sorely needed competition for the iPad.

In selling more than 1 million devices in 28 days, the iPad triggered d??«j??í from June 2007, when Apple successfully launched its first iPhone. That device took more than two months to sell 1 million units, making the iPad's first month of sales all the more impressive.

While the news of a Verizon-Google tablet attracted a lot of attention in the media, analysts largely shrugged.

IDC analyst Al Hilwa said he expects all the major smartphone players to have pads leveraging their app-stores and SDKs in the next 12 months, largely thanks to the iPad.

"[The tablet computer] has been established as successful and desirable by users because it leverages the smartphone app distribution channels vendors have set up already and it leverages the same or similar application development models and SDKs, etc... and of course it leverages the user interface, touch, etc...

"These devices are compelling universal content consumption devices and which straddle smartphone and PC and probably will end up growing at the expense of both. They are inherently connected so the carriers see an opportunity to sell data plans and want to land-grab the customers from their competitors."

No Chrome OS Tablet on the Horizon

IMS Research analyst Anna Hunt said users can expect most of the big mobile network operators to deploy tablets throughout the year. "Many of the carriers and OEMs are looking to Android to offer an ecosystem of apps competitive to Apple," Hunt told eWEEK.

In pairing with Verizon, it seems clear Google's Android tablet will be 3G-enabled, challenging the recently launched iPad 3G with AT&T.

Altimeter Group analyst Michael Gartenberg noted that Verizon's dearth of specifics makes it hard to compare to Apple's iPad 3G.

"Some people are calling it the first significant challenge to Apple [in the tablet market] and that may well be but at the moment it's not even vaporware, it's a throw-away line," Gartenberg told eWEEK.

What it does mean, he said, is that Apple's speedy sale of 1 million-plus iPads has not gone unnoticed by the rest of the industry. "It would appear that Verizon and Google and most likely others are simply not going to cede this market without a fight."

Gartenberg and Hilwa also put to rest the question of why Google's initial tablets will be on Android instead of the Chrome operating system.

Gartenberg said Google intends Chrome OS for clamshell-style devices with keyboards that run Web applications. Chrome OS is more of a science project today, a vision for the future of computing.

"I suspect that the purity of its cloud-orientation may be a bit too futuristic and impractical at this point," Hilwa added. "I think when we have 100 to 1,000 gigabit networks coming to the last mile, it may be safe to have such pure reliance on the cloud."

That's a different world from the one Android targets today on smartphones, tablets and set-top boxes. "Android is about rich apps, that Google wants to see scale from the device that goes in the pocket to the 60-inch screen on the wall," Gartenberg said.

In between is the tablet computer, which can't be put in the pocket, but can be carried everywhere to let users access Web content.

The iPad proved this market valuable to consumers; Verizon and Google hope to target that market before Apple extends its lead the way it did with the iPhone.


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